PARENTS

Sibling Rivalry: Risks Of Making Everything Fair For Your Kids

06/12/2015 11:06 EDT | Updated 06/12/2015 11:59 EDT
Alamy

Sometimes it seems like our children spend their entire waking lives tallying all the injustices between them and their siblings.

“NOT FAIR -- his pancake is bigger.”

“NOT FAIR -- she pushed the elevator button last time.”

“NOT FAIR -- it’s her turn to walk the dog -- I always do it.”

Do you want know what is really not fair? How much we have to put up with all that! It’s enough to paralyze a parent.

If you have ever caught yourself dumping the French fries out of their sleeve and systematically counting them into two perfectly equal piles, you know those kids have found your fairness-guilt button.

My advice to you? Just stop. You’ll never win. You might as well put a scale in your bag and weigh those fries instead of counting because one of them will notice that the length of some fries in one of the piles is longer.

You are actually throwing fuel on the fire of fairness when you engage in trying to equalize things with your children. Let me explain this from a psychological point of view.

Some people believe our worth as a human being is fluctuating and variable. They envision worth as some kind of ladder to ascend.

How do you move up a rung? Be “better” than others -- smarter, richer, thinner, nicer, or any other “er” you can think of. They are motivated to get to the top of the ladder and be the best. How will you know your status unless you are ranking and judging and evaluating constantly? That’s exhausting!

Others believe that every child is born worthy and valuable, right from their first breath and that one doesn’t have to earn worth. It’s our birthright. Our worthiness as a human doesn’t increase or decrease with our performance and accomplishments. We are lovable and important regardless of our intelligence, weight and social skills.

When we hold the belief that our worth is fixed and non-fluctuating we don’t waste energies trying to find ways to evaluate where we are on the ladder of worth. If he has more pancake, who cares? I have enough for my appetite.

If we are not assured of our innate worth we compete to prove we are okay. But for how long? We believe we are only as good as the last good thing we did so the competition never ends. We ceaselessly work to find and defend our place on the ladder. We are competitive, defensive and self-interested.

When a parent works to make things fair, they are inadvertently acting in ways that support the belief that the illusionary ladder of worth is true. Counting to make sure both kids have exactly 15 french fries, means we also believe that 15 is the same “rung” of equal and fair. It’s a competitive enviroment, but you are working to show that both kids crossed the finish line together.

Instead, let’s show our children there is no ladder or finish line by stopping our attempts to make things fair.

Let’s create the belief that we are all valuable and that we have abundance enough to love appreciate and care for everyone! We all have unique qualities, unique needs, wants and desires.

If you want more pancake, then speak up and say you are still hungry. I have enough batter for all my children. If you need new shoes, I will get them for you -- when you need them, not because your sister got a pair at the mall.

When we find ways to value the inherent worth of each of our children and assure them of their lovability, we establish a belief system that allows for difference without animosity. If we try to make things fair, we reinforce evaluation and judgment.

Easier said than done right? But that’s why I write every week! Stay on the journey. More to come each week here on HuffPost Canada Parents.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST: